Formula One Design Techniques
There is no question that Formula One racing is a gripping motor sport for those interested in cars, speed, engineering and design. The design of these Formula One cars is crucial to the speed that the car will travel at, and it is also imperative for the safety of the driver.
For this latter reason, there are strict design rules applying to all cars in this motor sport and any car that does not abide by the rules is disqualified from taking part in the races. It is rare for car designers to infringe these rules because the cost of driving in a race and the benefits from doing well are massive.
Having said that, Formula One car racing teams push the design features of their cars up to the limit. The key to gaining maximum speed with maximum fuel efficiency is having as aerodynamic a design as possible. These cars are as well designed as any fighter jet, but the foremost difference is that fighter jets are intended to leave the ground whereas cars are not.
Therefore, another vital part of the design is creating down force to keep the tyres firmly on the ground. It is important for a number of reasons for the tyres to have a decent grip on the track. Without this grip or traction, the car cannot accelerate, but without it they cannot stop either. Therefore down force and tyres are a major factor in speed and safety.
The brakes are extraordinary as well as you can guess. They are in essence the same as those used in stock road cars, but the components are rather extraordinary. because they have to work and stay working at high speeds, this means that they produce high temperatures.
Regular metal would buckle or even melt, so high quality carbon fibre composite disk brakes are used instead in conjunction with brake pads of extraordinary composites which are often extremely secret. There are a great deal of jealously guarded secrets in the designs of contemporary Formula One racing cars.
The foremost part of a racing car is the monocoque, which is the section that holds the engine and the driver. The car’s suspension is also mounted on the monocoque so it is clear that it has to be very strong. This strength is normally gained by constructing it from carbon fibre.There are also many safety features built into the monocoque for the benefit of the driver.
The engine has to be light-weight, efficient but powerful, which is a very tall order indeed. There is now also an FIA regulation that the engine has to last for at least one race weekend. Engine failure is the foremost cause of pulling out of a Formula One race early. The gearbox suffers equally in a fast race. Another rule states that all gearboxes have to be manual – no automatic gearboxes. This adds to the wear and tear.
The suspension is manually adaptable so that it can be fine-tuned to each race track and the conditions existing on a race track at any given time. The suspension is not there for the comfort of the driver but to increase the likelihood of the car winning.